ATLANTA – It was nothing like we expected.
For sure, Super Bowl 53 was going to be fireworks, an amazing display of points and big plays.
In Vegas, it felt like an over kind of a bet all the way. On one side, you had the high-scoring Los Angeles Rams, a team that scored 54 points in a three-point win this regular season. At the time, that game against the Kansas City Chiefs was billed as a possible Super Bowl preview.
On the other side, a quarterback in Tom Brady that could light up the scoreboard as well. Just a year ago, Brady threw for more than 500 yards and put up 33 points in a Super Bowl loss.
Instead, we got a snoozer, a boring Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium here Sunday night . In fact, it was the fewest points allowed to the loser of the big game in 48 seasons. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in the Super Bowl in 1971.
Man, this was nothing like the regular season where points were plenty, rules were quarterback-friendly and fans were enjoying the offensive explosion.
None of it mattered in February.
3rd-and-2 and @KVN_03 & the #Patriots defense were ready. #EverythingWeGot https://t.co/O1cIvAlWE7
Bottom line: defense still wins championships this time of the year. People have said it forever. And for the most part, it’s true.
“We had to put together something that would neutralize the running game and their big play-action on early downs,” Pats’ coach Bill Belichick told the media after the game.
For sure, it was a tall order. This Rams’ offense is a Top-10 scoring offense of all-time.
LA coach Sean McVay’s team averaged 32.9 points per game this season. And, somehow, the Pats allowed the Rams just 9.1 percent of their scoring average, the best mark in Super Bowl history.
Under Belichick, the Pats had won each of their first five Super Bowls by less than eight points. On Sunday, it was hardly a blowout or a piece of cake in a 10-point victory.
And the Rams’ defense showed up, too. Teams that scored just 13 points against Rams were 1-17 in the 2018 season.
For sure, this should have been a victory for the Rams when they held Brady to no touchdowns. Brady also had an INT and a fumble.
But the Rams’ offense was missing, nearly dead. In the regular season, it would have feasted on a defense like New England’s. But the Rams couldn’t get anything going on the ground or in the air.
Think about it. The Pats’ defense was just middle of the road at 16th this season. And it didn’t look super two weeks ago when the Chiefs hung 31 points on them in the second half alone in the AFC Championship Game.
That’s why the last thing people thought was that the Rams would have trouble scoring.
In their first playoff game, they ran the ball down the Cowboys’ throat. In the NFC title game, they overcame a 13-point deficit to beat the Saints in New Orleans.
Here, the Patriots’ defense put in work.
And while Brady gets most of the spotlight – the NFL is a quarterback league, after all – the Pats’ defensive unit has had a big part in the two runs that have collected six championships in 19 years.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS https://t.co/vwr42MxcFq
In fact, in 2002, when the Pats also beat the Rams, it was the defense that shut down one of the best offenses the NFL had ever seen.
Yes, the Pats were more than two touchdown underdogs back then and beat the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.
Somehow, the Rams scored just 17 points. New England’s defense made big plays, including a pick-six and fumble recovery that helped win the game.
Funny, this is the defense that was torched for 41 points in last year’s Super Bowl against the Eagles.
But there have been other defensive stances that helped win championships for this team.
Don’t forget that interception at the one-yard-line to beat the Seattle Seahawks.
Still, as boring as the game was, it was a defensive display suitable for framing that brought a sixth Super Bowl victory to the franchise.
“We grinded it out,” Brady said. “They played really well on defense. Fortunately, our defense really played the best game they have all season. It was just an incredible win.”